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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 24 January, 2020

The Redzone: Would a Patriots v Packers rematch make the perfect Super Bowl?

For probably the first time this season, an NFL game lived up to the hype.

#12 meets #12 after the game.
#12 meets #12 after the game.
Image: Tom Lynn/AP/Press Association Images

IT SEEMS LIKE the NFL season has only just started and yet, just two months from today, Super Bowl XLIX will take place in Grendale, Arizona.

That’s your lot as an NFL fan I suppose. 17 Sunday nights telling yourself that – despite the fact there are 18 points between the sides now – if you go to sleep you’ll miss the greatest comeback in league history.

17 Monday mornings spent convincing yourself a third cup of coffee before leaving the house is a much better idea than staying up late the night before ever was.

Lets be honest, as Thanksgiving proved, the prime time games haven’t exactly lived up to billing in 2014.

That was until the New England Patriots visited Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers last night. Of course, it wasn’t the late, late, game, but with a 12.30 finish Irish time, it was still questionable as to how many people were going to stick around for the end after being burned so badly, like overcooked Thanksgiving turkey, on Thursday.

However, until the Packers iced the game with a crucial third down conversion with just over two minutes to play, there was nobody taking their eyes off this one. Last night we saw the best in the AFC take on the best in the NFC and, for once, the reality exceeded the hype.

This was, afterall, the first meeting between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers despite a combined age of 68 and a quarter of a century of NFL experience between them.

And what did we get? Zero interceptions and both quarterbacks completing 63% of their passes and a glimmer of hope that the two best teams in the league might meet again in the Super Bowl.

Patriots Packers Football Randall Cobb with a rare dropped pass during last night's game. Source: Tom Lynn/AP/Press Association Images

It doesn’t happen often – how else can you explain Eli Manning’s two Super Bowl rings – and it doesn’t always deliver when it does (hi Denver and Seattle) but there’s something very satisfying as a neutral when the two best teams in the league meet in February.

And, while of course there are other contenders knocking on the door, more and more are falling by the wayside every week.

In the AFC, Denver remain the most likely contenders with teams such as the Bengals and Colts too inconsistent at the moment to be relevant in the playoffs. There’s a chance a team gets hot between now and January but, right now, Patriots v Broncos in New England looks set to be the AFC Championship game.

The picture in the NFC is slightly less clear. The Cardinals currently have the number one seed but only a fool would bet on Drew Stanton and Arizona being in the same position come the postseason.

The Packers are obviously the form team in the conference on a four-game win streak but, as I seem to repeat every week, nobody should be sleeping on a Seahawks side that continues to get key players back from injury or the Philadelphia Eagles who possess the ability to win games on offence, defence and special teams.

Home advantage – currently resting with the Packers – could well prove crucial in deciding who will lift the George Halas trophy at the end of January.

And, after what we saw last night – when such fine margins were all that separated two teams so evenly matched – who would begrudge the Packers and Patriots the chance to do it all again in Grendale on 1 February 2015.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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